Intentional Toddler Time {19.5 months}

{Samuel is currently 19.5 months old}

Planning Intentional Toddler Time

Intentional Toddler Time is a lot of fun for us. Each week I have a plan, and each week it never goes as planned. However, we do far more together than we would if I failed to plan.

Each Saturday I sit down with my planning worksheets, and think through what I want to focus on the following week with Samuel. You can download my Intentional Toddler Time Planning worksheet here: Tot School Weekly Planning Sheet. This is what I use to plan and organize my thoughts for the upcoming week.

Weekly Goals

  • Theme: Fruits
  • Letters to work on: Aa
  • Colors to work on: Red
  • Shapes to work on: Circle
  • Habits to work on: Obedience

Last week, I downloaded and laminated the Fruit Tot Pack from 1+1+1=1. You can find it here. Samuel has taken a particular interest in coloring, lines, drawing, and shapes. I gave these a try a couple of weeks ago and Samuel loved them. Each week he gets better and better at picking out the shapes that I call out, drawing lines, and even holding his dry erase marker properly.

We don’t always do everything in the packs, but we enjoy what he seems interested in. This is not a forced table time. This is fun for us! We pulled out our Tot Pack twice this last week.

I usually just slip the sheets into page protectors and then tape down the paper onto the table. Since he uses dry erase markers, I don’t worry about him keeping it perfectly on the paper (though of course I encourage it) because it wipes right off the table.

Tot Trays

I usually lay out 5 tot “trays” each week. After trying to find a solution for storage, we found a lovely shelf at IKEA {IKEA trofast shelving} on one of our adventures through the store.

The green shelves hold Samuel’s trays each week plus his coloring sheets that he can pull out at any time to color. I’m still figuring out what I want to use the red bins for. πŸ™‚ This whole system is a work in progress.

Felt pizza with all the toppings
Elmo stickers and a scrap piece of paper
Beans with various jars and scoops
Leapfrog animal magnets

I also had a hole punch with paper, but failed to get a picture. I think it’s self explanatory, right? πŸ˜‰

Samuel loves stickers and beans right now. These have been in his tray rotation for several weeks now. I just change out how he interacts with them (if I remember). I usually leave the trays well enough alone until he ceases to show interest in something, or if I find it’s a little too advanced for him. For example, the hole punch is something I think he would love, but his little hand muscles aren’t ready for them. Tot Trays are a fun way to introduce various learning and life skills.

Tot Toys

We rotate Samuel’s toys for various reasons, but one reason is so he never grows tired and bored with his choices. Another is to cut down on the toys that we have to clean up each day. It’s win-win! Each week I pull out 3 learning toys for him to play with.

Noah’s Ark was a gift from Grammy. He loves this sweet wooden set. We’ve had lots of fun learning animal noises, as well as feeding that “dump and fill” toddler tendency. πŸ™‚

I collected all the indoor balls we own and put them into a basket from IKEA (see a trend?). He loves, loves, loves balls. So he’s dumping, filling, tossing, and enjoying all sorts of creative play with his basket of balls. We’ve practiced tossing and “shooting hoops” with our balls and baskets. This toy has been out for over a month and it has not grown old yet!

Our third toy for the week was a bucket of LEGOS that Na’Nah brought over months ago. He’s slowly taking interest in them as his hands become stronger. Not being able to pull them apart frustrates him, but just this last week he learned to take them apart by himself. So I see Lego towers in our near future.

We also have other toys that stay out all the time (e.g., toy instruments, cars, puppets, IKEA train set, and building blocks), but the remaining toys are in rotation. He is totally in love with his train set right now! I mean, totally in love!

Life School

Most of our learning takes place in normal everyday activities. I bring him into most everything I’m doing. Of course, some days I’m too exhausted and others I “just don’t feel like it.” I am human and selfish just like you. πŸ˜‰ But honestly, I’ve found Samuel learns so much when he just comes alongside my everyday chores and activities.

After reading Together Growing Appetites for God, my husband and I decided to start reading the Bible together as a family during breakfast. Some days Samuel wants to “read” and we let him. It’s not a perfect time, but it is a time for him to grow familiar with the Bible and who talks to us in the Bible. {Update: We have since grown into our Family Devotions routine with a toddler. You can find out more here!}

Right now, his favorite life skill to work on is cooking! Mark built Samuel a learning tower, and we use it multiple times a day! I choose meals, or at least portions of meals that my toddler can take part in. Last week, Samuel helped make scrambled eggs, pancakes, homemade bread, french bread, blueberry buckle, smoothies, and other things that I’m sure I just can’t remember.

Of course, our blueberry buckle looked a little distorted, but it tasted amazing. I’ve learned that you just have to let go of “perfection” or your idea of what cooking is supposed to be like and let life take over for a bit. Enjoy getting flour in your hair and egg yolks on your floor because you’re building a lasting relationship and encouraging your tot to learn for himself how to do these things. It will be messy, but that’s normal. And your oven will kill the germs.

We also get lots and lots and lots of outside time! I am so thankful to have a home with a back yard that is safe and visible from the kitchen window. I will often send Sam outside to play while I wash dishes at the sink. We also make a weekly trip outdoors somewhere as a family or just the two of us. Last week, it was the park and river that runs beside the library.

What about you? What did you do this week with your toddler? Leave a comment so we can gather some fresh inspiration! πŸ™‚

Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum for Toddlers!

The Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum for ToddlersΒ is designed to help you teach early learning skills to your child while instilling God’s truth. One week at a time (for 18 weeks), I will guide you through sharing the Gospel with your child through various Bible stories and learning opportunities.Β Click hereΒ to learn more.

This post contains affiliate links. Please see our full disclosure policy here.

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  1. Ok, where do I begin. #1: You are totally my hero. You got me going on this intentional toddler time thing and that has kicked me into (almost) full-on preschool. Karli and Shelby are both loving this! #2: Karli is working on those “Aa is for Apple” sheets too! She loves her little notebook. Shelby is doing As is for alligator (but more on that later). #3 I have a trofast that I love but I need another one. I have the exact one you have but it is natural stain. I had NO idea it was on Amazon? I have to drive to Ohio for ours so I may start shopping! #4 You are so brave for cooking in the kitchen with Sam! I let Shelby help and started letting Karli do some things. She helped put cut potatoes on a baking sheet and had a blast! #5 I so love all you are doing for Samuel! You are one talented, creative mama!

    1. Well I love that you are inspired into action. That makes me happy. πŸ™‚ So funny that we have the same trofast! I want another one as well. They are online, but they are more expensive, I think. It’s still worth it for us to go down with Mark to Denver instead of ordering online, but I love that it is accessible for others who don’t have access to IKEA. We are definitely huge fans of IKEA! And thank you for your encouragement. I can’t wait to learn more for you too!

  2. Great ideas, Leigh Ann. I am getting ready to start something similar with my Claire. Looking forward to being able to share inspiration and encouragement with each other through the toddler years!

    1. It is true that a lack of intentional time leads to lots of misbehavior. There is a lot of energy in those little bodies! Let’s give it a productive outlet, right? πŸ™‚ Glad you’ll be joining us in the series!

  3. Love this since our boys are so close in age! We do alot of the same things – Legos are a BIG hit around here, as are balls. And trains. LOL! And now I have 2 helpers in the kitchen, which is always fun, haha! I figure they learn all kinds of life skills in the kitchen. Puzzles and coloring are the other thing we are working on now. He does very well with the board puzzles!

    1. I agree about the life skills in the kitchen. You’re going to have happy daughter-in-laws. πŸ˜‰ We do lots of puzzles too around here. I’ll share some of our favorites someday!

  4. I love this, Leigh Ann!! You are so much more organized than I was and I’m inspired to get things ready for Babykins before she needs them. That way I won’t be scrambling last minute, again. πŸ™‚

    1. If I’m not organized I become a deer in head lights. And I started researching last year for this stuff. haha! I’m an overachiever. πŸ˜‰ But in all seriousness, I do try to stay one step ahead of Sam and anticipate what is to come so we can have lots of age appropriate fun!

  5. You are so planned and organized! I never would have thought to do so many activities with toddlers! I’m stowing all these great ideas away for now because before I know it, I’ll have two toddlers to do these with!

    1. I did a lot of research, Jami, as well as a lot of trial and error. I have found I”d rather give him too many opportunities than to assume he doesn’t know how to do it. Children truly are incredibly smart. They pick up on everything. I’m constantly amazed, and more often than not underestimate what Samuel is capable of.

  6. I LOVE this! My son is 2 1/2 and I have been wanting to start working more intentionally with him on letters, colors, shapes, etc. and this is helping give me the encouragement to just do it! Thanks so much! I agree with Nikki, you are also my hero πŸ˜‰ I shall strive to be awesome mommy too! πŸ™‚

    1. Oh yes, just do it! It’s a work in progress for us. Blogging about it helps hold me accountable. πŸ˜‰ And to God be the glory. It’s certainly His grace that gives wisdom and ideas to know what to do with my boy.

  7. I love this, especially Samuel’s Noah’s Ark. That is awesome! I really tried to do the Tot Trays with my kids, but it ended up being a big mess. We do a sensory tub that both kids can play with together and I try to offer a fun activity for Sis while I’m working with Bug. Sometimes it doesn’t go so well because they both want to do what the other is doing! You are doing an awesome job!

    1. The Noah’s Ark is so amazing. We absolutely love it! I can see the Tot Trays being a disaster. This is why I only change them out when he loses interest. Changing them each week was frustrating for me. I think sensory tubs are a great idea! For some reason I’ve just never gotten that one figured out. Sam just sort of looked at it when I made one for him, and then walked away. haha! Maybe I need better ideas for that one. LOL